How to Completely Captivate Your Readers

We’ve all read stories that keep us enthralled the whole way through. The plot captivates us, and the characters tug at our hearts.

And then there are the stories that we easily put down after several pages or a couple of chapters. We don’t relate to or care about the characters, and the plot doesn’t hold our interest.

How do you write a story that keeps readers invested?

Girl reading on train platform

Photo by Mo Riza

I recently read a chapter of Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us by Jessica Page Morrell that explained the key to mesmerizing your readers: portraying emotion in your characters.

What creates emotion? Desire and fear. Each of us experiences a deep range of emotions, motivated by our individual desires and fears, so reading about characters with the same nuances has the power to draw us in and make us feel.

Readers should never doubt what a character wants and what a character fears. If you show these two aspects in each scene, in each turn of events, your readers will keep reading.

Identify Desires and Fears

Often, desire and fear go hand-in-hand. A character wants something—a victory, a love interest, a promotion, a change—and fears it won’t happen or she will lose the very thing she wants.

When pinpointing desires and fears, it’s crucial to dig deep. Start with a general desire—love, security, peace, acceptance—and note the many ways that desire manifests itself in your character’s life. Then look at a general fear—death, rejection, failure—and consider the instances in which your character could encounter that fear.

Keep that primary desire and fear consistent, and don’t be afraid to put your character at risk. Force her to make difficult choices. Allow her to fail. A story is most interesting when a character will risk anything for what she wants—and when she must face her greatest fear in the process.

Express Strong Emotions

To make emotions authentic, recall and tap into your own feelings in various situations. Show (don’t tell!) a whole range of emotions within a character. But remember, in fiction, you have the freedom to raise the stakes and intensify emotion. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to take a fictional story beyond realistic parameters in order to make it interesting. After all, we often read to “escape” real life, right?

But whatever you do, please don’t leave your character alone in a room, crying and wallowing. Readers want to experience emotion through action and dialogue. Limit introspection to when it’s absolutely necessary. Experiment with never writing a single-character scene and see what happens.

As the story progresses, heighten the tension (it’s called rising action for a reason!). Nearing the climax, create a scenario in which it seems impossible for your character to get what he wants or to avoid his greatest fear.

A satisfying ending happens when a character fulfills his desire, but it can certainly be unpredictable or in a different way than he (or your readers) may have expected. Consider what kind of emotion you want to end with, what you want your readers to feel as they finish your truly captivating story.

What emotions are present in your writing? What does your character desire and fear the most?

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes. Use emotion to show your character’s deepest desire and greatest fear.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. Be sure to read and give feedback on a few of the other comments as well.

About Melissa Tydell

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

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  • http://twitter.com/pootlesuzie Suzie Gallagher

    Tracy looked out of the open door through the fly screen. For a whole week she’d got this far and no farther. Rooted to the spot she looked at the edge of the fly screen, all she had to do was lift up her hand, which one would she choose, the left which was closest or the right, her default hand.

    Breathing in and out, Tracy, looked at her hands, looked at the door and closed it. She ran down the holla and dived under the covers of her very pink bed. Tomorrow, she told herself, tomorrow she would touch the screen door, tomorrow she might open the door, tomorrow she might step outside.

    Years before she had been glued to bed, unable to function outside of her duvet. She got thinner and thinner until she was picked up and plonked into hospital. They fed her, medicated her, talked to her. She couldn’t explain the fear then.

    Many, many therapy years later she was able to explain. She thought of all this, of how far she had come, and yet here she was once more stuck like a fly in a spider’s web unable to function. The wisdom imparted to her all those years before, she couldn’t quite grasp it in her mind. Sentences floated just out of focus in her mind, ideas floated just beyond the horizon. Healing was within her mind, she knew that, she had that to hold onto as the sands shifted beneath her.

    • mariannehvest

      Trying to think and hold on “as the sands shifted beneath her”, that is so well put. I really can identify with that insecurity in the ever shifting life we lead. I like the way this very hard to describe emotion of agoraphobia. Well done.

    • Von Rupert

      Hi Suzie. I could picture this scene so clearly, feeling Tracy’s turmoil, the fight between what she longs for and what she fears. Her journey between the bed and the open door is quite poignant. I wonder, since she spends so much time alone, if she could speak some of these thoughts out loud, maybe recite a mantra or some insight from the counselor, something to break out of the descriptions and thoughts. Just an idea. :) Nice writing!

      • http://twitter.com/pootlesuzie Suzie Gallagher

        thanks Von, that would work well,

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      I love that last sentence Suzie. And I think you show very well the conflict between her desire to get better and her inner fear of what will happen to her if she ventures outside. Nice practice!

    • Juliana Austen

      I feel her suffocating panic – well done!

    • http://www.facebook.com/yvette.carol Yvette Carol

      Isn’t it amazing how the tiniest details can bring something to life. Just those words ‘very pink bed’ did it for me.

  • mariannehvest

    Alexa finished setting the table and stirred the steaming stew. It was fragrant with bay and thyme, cooked perfectly. She took the bread out of the oven. It was cold outside, and it was misty. The kind of night that made a person happy just to be inside a warm home. She had the fire going in the living room. They could sit there and read after dinner cuddled up together on the couch. She watched for his lights in the driveway.

    She put the bread back in the oven to keep it warm, and cut back the heat under the stew. She called him and left a message “Are you okay?”

    She added another log to the fire, and sat alone on the sofa with her legs curled up. She tried to read. She watched for his lights in the driveway. She grabbed her phone and banged the buttons and left a message “You could at least call if you’re going to be late.”

    She turned off the stew and at a bite from one roll. She tossed the bitten roll into the trash can. She saw the crimson lipstick on the white bread as it landed on top of the empty egg noodle bag and the yellow and red yeast packets that topped the pile of refuse in the stainless steel can.

    She called the bar “Is Nick Bernadone there?”

    “No ma’am, he left alreday?”

    “When? How long ago?”

    “About twenty minutes.”

    She didn’t ask if he was alone when he left although she wanted to.

    She found the cigarettes that she had hidden from herself earlier that week and went out on the porch to smoke.

    She watched for his lights in the driveway.

    She went to bed at midnight. She woke at three am.

    She looked at the dark driveway. She called his cell.

    Someone answered, but didn’t talk. She heard voices in the background but the words weren’t clear. She thought she head someone laugh.

    She smoked another cigarette. She cried.

    She called the hospital. No one named Nick Bernadone had been admitted.

    She went to the porch. She wondered how she would get though work the next day.

    She watched for his lights.

    • Jeff Ellis

      Waiting is always the worst. Good practice, Marianne!

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Jeff. I agree about waiting.

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      I feel so sorry for her – she cooked that meal even down to the bread itself, and the ungrateful sod couldn’t even show up! I loved how you showed her anxiousness and despair. And STILL she waits for him. Nice practice!

      • mariannehvest

        I think if he’d come home and given her a lot of excuses she might have smacked him (or worse since it’s just a story she could murder him and cook him up in some stew! ; )

        • Juliana Austen

          Yes! Yes! Yes! Murder the b****d! very nice Marianne!

          • mariannehvest

            Thank you Juliana!

        • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

          Love it!!!

    • Von Rupert

      Marian, I love the way you built this entire scene on actions, each action building on the next. I think you did an excellent job of showing both her desire and her fear.

      • mariannehvest

        Thank you Rupert. I’m glad you liked it and that it worked.

    • http://twitter.com/pootlesuzie Suzie Gallagher

      Marianne, love this. It is full of the emotion of love and the fear of betrayal. A wife’s worst scenario

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Suzie!

    • Debra Lobel

      Nice writing. I feel like crying, too.

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks, not that I want you to feel like crying but that makes the exercise a success. The ending is open, maybe he was in a wreck but will get home okay.

    • http://www.facebook.com/yvette.carol Yvette Carol

      Oof! Got me in the solar plexus. We’ve all been there…

    • Tamera

      I love the repetition of looking in the driveway. Great writing.

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Tamera.

    • Anna Narr

      You did a wonderful job taking us through her emotions. At first feeling happy and looking forward to the evening, then to dread and disappointment. There isn’t anything quit like being let down like that.

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Anna. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

    • Michael Lund

      I could feel the tension rising as the night progressed. Nice use of emotion, great writing.

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks I’m glad you liked it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1310731848 William Teague

      Great writing! I think I’ve been Nick Bernadone. I know it’s an exercise but I want an ending lol. However, if you wouldn’t mind, can you make it an unexpected twist. :)

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks I left the ending open so the readers could figure out how it ends. I was thinking that a) maybe he would have been in a wreck but had been taken to a different hospital than the one she called. b) he would try to sneak in and she would clobber him with a skillet, c) he is not supposed to be coming over at all. He is just some guy she has a crush on and thinks is coming over because he said he might drop by. It depends a lot on backstory and character development which wasn’t part of this exercise. What do you think could have happened.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1310731848 William Teague

          What if Nick was the guy she was having an affair with? LOL

    • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.dyer Zoe Beech

      Wow. So, so powerful. This is amazing, Marianne.

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Zoe.

    • gary merenstein

      you can feel her emotions. intense.

      • mariannehvest

        Thank you gary

  • Jeff Ellis

    The swing rose up to its apex, where he felt as if he were floating, and then back down to slice the tip of his toes through the sand before reaching its second peak and back again. A single seat, ping-ponging between two points, two highs, like a pendulum. He was certain she would call soon.

    Last year she had been in Rome. This year it was Paris. School always kept her in some other country. He wondered if there were other guys and other times he wondered if he cared. In the end it didn’t matter, so long as she came back to him and they could be together. Her trip ended in two weeks. She would call soon.

    Swinging his weight to the rhythm of the apexes, he felt infinite in an inescapable way. Not universal, but infinitesimal. A tiny spec stuck in limbo, unable to deviate from its prescribed path. The rise and fall of middle-income do-nothing-town life. Was it different for the rich and famous? He tended to doubt that. Money wasn’t the root of all happiness, just a means to security. Even security guards get lonely.

    His phone buzzed in his pocket and he slowed enough to take it out without falling. “Hello?”

    “Hey babe,” she said.

    “Hey, what’s up?”

    “Nothing, just sitting at the train stop. I should be back in Amherst tonight and then my plane leaves tomorrow afternoon.”

    “So you’ll be here,” he drew the word out, “Wednesday?”

    “Yeah. I can’t wait to see you.”

    “I can’t wait to see you either,” when he said it, he smiled. “Did you talk to your counselor about transferring to Seattle? I found a pretty amazing apartment just down the street from my new job.”

    “Um, we can talk about it when I get home.”

    “Oh…okay. Di-”

    “My train is here, I gotta go babe.”

    “Okay, let me know when you’re safe and sound.”

    “Will do, I love you!”

    “I love you too!” He hung up the phone and the cadence of the swing slowed to a gentle rocking motion. What was there to talk about when she got home? He kicked the swing back into top gear. Was this it, then? Was she not coming back home? Or did she want to keep doing this constant back and forth? Visiting when she came back home for vacation. Calling every day when she was gone back to school for months? Neither was what he wanted, but the alternative was worse. He bit his lip and continued to swing, back and forth. Back and forth.

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      I like the analogy of his thoughts and the swing. I think you showed very well his wishes and his disappointments. Good practice!

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks so much Kate! I’m glad I was able to get that across :)

    • Von Rupert

      Wowser, Jeff. Nice work. Love your language in this piece: apex, slice, infinitesimal, apex, pendulum, etc. You use the words, but you echo them with actions.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thank you! I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I didn’t actually catch my use of words coupling with my actions, that’s pretty cool :)

        • Juliana Austen

          Very cool indeed!!!

          • Jeff Ellis

            Thank you Juliana! I’m glad you liked it!

    • http://twitter.com/pootlesuzie Suzie Gallagher

      Jeff good job, I concur with other comments the ebb and flow of the swing as desire and fear intermingle in the passage.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks Suzie, I appreciate it :)

    • mariannehvest

      I like this the idea of the swing moving from one place to another as he thinks about her maybe coming back, maybe not. Well done.

      • Jeff Ellis

        I’m glad you enjoyed it Marianne :) Thanks so much for the kind words.

    • Debra Lobel

      I also liked the imagery of swinging back and forth and the uncertainty of the future.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks Debra, I’m glad you liked it! :)

    • plumjoppa

      I like this for all the imagery mentioned, but also because it’s unexpected that a grown man would be on a swing.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Hahaha, thanks Plum. I spend…a lot of time on swings, for a grown man :)

  • Juliana Austen

    Felicity winced s the needle slipped into her forehead – it didn’t really hurt – it was just the idea of it.

    “There you are – all done – smooth and beautiful. You have such lovely skin Felicity!” said the nurse.

    “Thank you Maia.” Felicity checked the mirror and grimaced a little – a few tiny red dots and no make-up. This was why she had the procedure done here on the other side of the city. There had once been an embarrassing meeting with her friend Charlotte in a café near home.

    She paid at reception and walked out of the clinic. She checked her phone, no message from her husband – he was in Singapore this week. Coffee and maybe a bit of retail therapy she thought.

    “Hi there!” said the shop assistant. “That is the most beautiful dress – I know it looks like nothing on the hanger but on the right person it is sensational – you should try it on.”

    “Hmmm” said Felicity fingering the silk.

    “Come on – lets have some fun!” Enthused the girl.

    And it was fun Felicity tried on a dozen outfits – the girl, Shelley, knew her stuff and didn’t push things that were obviously wrong. Her phone pinged with a message. Felicity smiled.

    “Excuse me – my daughter – she is in France on her gap year. Oh she is too busy for our skpe session this evening. Oh well!”

    “They have such wonderful opportunities these days! Now try this one! You have such a marvellous figure.” Shelley said

    Felicity left with three bags and six items. She wondered if she could call her son but he had sounded quite cross the last time she had called – he had been in a lecture. There was a shoe store right next-door.

    “I see you have been to Shelly’s – doesn’t she have the most marvellous stuff?” the young man was attentive. Felicity showed him the silk dress and together they chose the perfect pair of high, oh so high, shoes to go with it. She also bought a pair of espadrilles – “So practical!” a gorgeous pair in blue suede “So this season!” and a lovely pair of black patent leather wedges.

    At home, Felicity checked her email – nothing but newsletters. The time difference was wrong for calling her husband – anyway he hadn’t replied to her last message. After dinner she would send him an email – she would think about what to say – keep it short – cheerful and bright.

    Felicity took the bags and boxes into her wardrobe and unpacked them. She hung the dresses up and turned to her spectacular shoe wall – the envy of her friends. She had it purpose built – shelving just for her shoes – they were displayed like expensive exhibits in a museum. Sometimes she would spend hours in here arranging them by colour and season, putting the ones she wore less often on the top level and the special ones in pride of place. She was delighted with the nude coloured heels – they were stunning, the blue suede ones maybe were not such a good idea but you couldn’t go wrong with black patent leather. She went to place them in the appropriate spot when she realised there was already a pair – similar on the shelf. No not similar – the same, exactly the same. She had spent $1000 on a pair of shoes exactly the same as ones she already owned.

    Felicity held them in her hand and stared at them – she had bought them in Melbourne on a shopping trip last year. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and stared at herself. She was still attractive – her slender figure showed off her clothes. Beautiful understated jewellery adorned her smooth skin. Her hair – streaked blonde by a master, framed her face. She looked as beautiful and expensive as the things that surrounded her. She stood alone, in her empty house and her eyes filled with tears.

    “I have so much” she thought “I have so much.”

    • http://twitter.com/pootlesuzie Suzie Gallagher

      Julianna this is beautiful, a full complete picture of lonliness

    • mariannehvest

      this is interesting. I can see that she is very bored and I imagine that her husband is the one making the money but he is not available. It is sad in a way but could be a lot sadder. This would be the good beginning for your next novel.

      • Juliana Austen

        Thanks Marianne – it is a bit of backstory I did for NaNo – it might develop into a short story.

    • http://www.facebook.com/yvette.carol Yvette Carol

      nice social commentary worked in there, Juliana

      • Juliana Austen

        Thanks Yvette – I met a few women like this – sad creatures!

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      I love the sudden moment of dawning realisation. Sad. But nice writing!

      • Juliana Austen

        Thank you Kate!

    • Anna Narr

      To have an empty nest and an absent husband would be a sad thing indeed. Our society tries to tell us that we can fill the holes in our lives with things. Felicity shows us that even if we can afford to buy the same pair of $1000 shoes twice, things can’t fill holes in our lives. Good Job

      • Juliana Austen

        Thanks Anna!

  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    Great post, Melissa! I have that book but haven’t read it.

    • Melissa

      Thanks! I really like that book. I usually read a chapter at a time because it has so much great information. Never fails to get me inspired/thinking!

  • Debra Lobel

    Dori was already crying, but when she looked out the car window again, she cried
    even harder. She was moving away, moving to a town that was unfamiliar to her and kids she didn’t know very well. She was leaving her best friend. Her mom kept telling her that she would see her every week, but that wasn’t good enough for Lucy.

    “Sweetheart, Grandma lives down the street and we’re going to come back and to see her every Sunday. You’ll be able to see Patsy then. We aren’t moving that far
    away. In fact, Patsy is going to move soon, too. She’s going to move closer to
    our new house.”

    Dori didn’t care. She was going to miss playing with Patsy in her room. She was
    going to miss playing with Patsy in Patsy’s room. They weren’t going to walk to school together anymore. No more hiding in their favorite spots or teasing the boy with the funny voice. Patsy had always been her best frien. They were inseparable. There was no room for anyone else.

    Where was Patsy? Dori had already said goodbye to her many times, but she wanted to say goodbye one more time. She ran out of the car. “Patsy, I have to give you something.”

    Dori handed Patsy a book. It was their favorite book to read together. “I want you
    to keep our favorite book. Keep it in a safe place and think of me when you read it.”

    “I will” said Patsy, trying not to let Dori see her tears. Patsy took the book, hugged Patsy, and ran inside her house.

    “Patsy,” called Dori. “We’ll read it together tomorrow. It’s Sunday and we’re coming back to visit my grandmother.”

    Just the thought of coming back here to see her friend again made it easier to get
    back into the car and drive to her new home.

    • mariannehvest

      I’m glad she was a least getting to come back and visit. I feel so sorry for her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yvette.carol Yvette Carol

    I have to admit, I read so many blogs, so many how-to-write posts every week that sometimes my head can get a bit full of information. Moments before opening this post, I’d just finished reading a post which espoused not revealing everything about characters. In fact the advice given was completely the opposite of ‘readers should never doubt what a character wants and what a character fears’. The guy said that if you do so, and fill in the blanks about everything then you may create a solid character but he’s never going to care about them…Sigh! Must be time for a glass of wine, methinks…

    • Melissa

      Isn’t that the funny thing about all the tips and advice out there? We can all approach writing differently, which is what makes it so interesting! Personally, I tend to care more about characters if I can identify in some way with what they are facing or experiencing. In that case, understanding their desires, fears, and emotions is what draws me into a story… but perhaps some people prefer a little more mystery!

  • Anna Narr

    It was a glorious night. The moon was full. The air was crisp. It was absolutely perfect. All the people walking down the sidewalk seemed to feel it too. Everyone was doing last minute Christmas shopping, it was only a few days away.

    Theresa had just finished the last of her shopping and was headed home. It was only a couple of block to her apartment. She was running over her list in her head just to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anyone. Her plane left at noon tomorrow and she wouldn’t have time once she got to her parents house to do anymore. There would be cooking and get together till New Years.

    Just as she rounded the corner to her building she got a funny feeling in her stomach, a twinge really. She stopped and looked behind her. No one was there. Theresa picked up her pace. Foot steps came up behind her, she didn’t stop or turn her head she just walked faster.

    “You are being silly of course there are going to be other people on the street.” she said to herself.

    When she got to her steps she fumbled for her keys, she glanced over her shoulder just in time to see a man walk by and stop just past her building. He didn’t look back he just stood there. Her heart beat faster. She punched in the code to get in the front door. It buzzed at her.

    “Crap” she said out loud.

    She tried again. The man had turned around now. He was watching her. No one else was on the street now. Just Theresa and the strange man. The keypad buzzed at her again. Even though it was cold out she could feel sweet beading on her upper lip. She could hear the blood rushing in her ears. His footsteps started up again, growing closer and closer. There was no way she was going to look back at him. Maybe he would just keep going. But he didn’t he stopped right behind her.

    ‘Oh, God” she thought, “I am going to be murdered or worse right here in front of my building. This is like a bad horror movie.”

    She tried the pad one more time. He was coming up the stairs now. The keypad just buzzed at her. Was that all the stupid thing could do. It had to be that worst sound in the world. Tears of fear and frustration welled up in her eyes. She began banging on the door.

    “Miss” the mans voice came from behind her, “Do you need some help?”

    “No” she squeaked

    “You could have fool me.”

    “No, I am fine really.” Please just let him go away she thought.

    “Here, let me help.” He said and stepped up beside her.

    Should she run? Scream? What? Instead she stood there frozen, just starring at the man. He stepped closer and she backed up against the wall beside the keypad. As he reached toward her she closed her eyes and waited but instead of feeling him grab her she heard a sweat little ding, and the door to the building opened.

    “There you go miss.”

    “How did you know the code?” she stammered.

    “I live on the second floor” He smiled

    • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

      I’m so glad it turned out ok. Great practice, Anna.

  • Anna Narr

    It was a glorious night. The moon was full. The air was crisp. It was absolutely perfect. All the people walking down the sidewalk seemed to feel it too. Everyone was doing last minute Christmas shopping, it was only a few days away.

    Theresa had just finished the last of her shopping and was headed home. It was only a couple of block to her apartment. She was running over her list in her head just to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anyone. Her plane left at noon tomorrow and she wouldn’t have time once she got to her parents house to do anymore. There would be cooking and get together till New Years.

    Just as she rounded the corner to her building she got a funny feeling in her stomach, a twinge really. She stopped and looked behind her. No one was there. Theresa picked up her pace. Foot steps came up behind her, she didn’t stop or turn her head she just walked faster.

    “You are being silly of course there are going to be other people on the street.” she said to herself.

    When she got to her steps she fumbled for her keys, she glanced over her shoulder just in time to see a man walk by and stop just past her building. He didn’t look back he just stood there. Her heart beat faster. She punched in the code to get in the front door. It buzzed at her.

    “Crap” she said out loud.

    She tried again. The man had turned around now. He was watching her. No one else was on the street now. Just Theresa and the strange man. The keypad buzzed at her again. Even though it was cold out she could feel sweet beading on her upper lip. She could hear the blood rushing in her ears. His footsteps started up again, growing closer and closer. There was no way she was going to look back at him. Maybe he would just keep going. But he didn’t he stopped right behind her.

    ‘Oh, God” she thought, “I am going to be murdered or worse right here in front of my building. This is like a bad horror movie.”

    She tried the pad one more time. He was coming up the stairs now. The keypad just buzzed at her. Was that all the stupid thing could do. It had to be that worst sound in the world. Tears of fear and frustration welled up in her eyes. She began banging on the door.

    “Miss” the mans voice came from behind her, “Do you need some help?”

    “No” she squeaked

    “You could have fool me.”

    “No, I am fine really.” Please just let him go away she thought.

    “Here, let me help.” He said and stepped up beside her.

    Should she run? Scream? What? Instead she stood there frozen, just starring at the man. He stepped closer and she backed up against the wall beside the keypad. As he reached toward her she closed her eyes and waited but instead of feeling him grab her she heard a sweat little ding, and the door to the building opened.

    “There you go miss.”

    “How did you know the code?” she stammered.

    “I live on the second floor” He smiled

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      Ha! Good twist! I liked the mounting tension and her building anxiety.

    • mariannehvest

      Boy I really felt her fear and frustration when she punches the code in and it just buzzes at her.

    • plumjoppa

      I feel another twist could be coming. He did walk past the building as if he didn’t live there. Maybe he’s just been studying the people punching in the code, waiting for his opportunity. Nice suspense!

  • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

    Its so nice to be back in The Write Practice amongst such awesome writers! i enjoyed this practice, but I feel i have got into some bad habits with nanowrimo. Well lets see how this goes:

    Sebastian tossed and turned in bed, but sleep eluded him.
    The Day of Reckoning was so close, and yet he had still not completed his task.

    It would not do. He had got so close that evening, he really
    thought he’d been on to something. Time was running out. The grandfather clock
    in the hall way marked each diminishing minute with ticks and tocks. He got out
    of bed, put on yesterday’s clothes that had been discarded on the floor, and
    went back out to the stable.

    The Unicorn stood quietly where he had left her earlier – pure
    white, serene, a vision of peace and loveliness. She looked towards him as he
    opened the stable door, stamped on the floor with one hoof, threw her head up
    slightly. Sebastian switched on the dim stable light and carefully, quietly, walked
    up to her. He reached out a cautious hand. The unicorn started a little, but
    did not move away.

    He touched his finger tips to her feather-soft neck. As he
    stroked down, he felt the unicorn tremble slightly. For the briefest moment he
    felt the vibration, the hum that he had been looking for. Finally – a connection!
    But it was so momentary, and then it was gone. Sebastian wasn’t altogether sure
    he hadn’t imagined it.

    “Come on!” he whispered urgently, “Come on, baby, we can do
    this!”

    He lifted his hand to the top of the unicorn’s neck, touched
    with just his fingertips again and stroked down. Again, the briefest vibration,
    a tiny glow, and then nothing.

    Sebastian sighed and put his hands on his hips.

    “Now look here,” he addressed her, in a soft hushed voice so
    as not to startle her, “I know this isn’t
    easy. I know you probably don’t want to connect with my mind. I’m not sure I
    would want to either. You know, if I was someone else. If I was you. But still,
    we’ve got to do this, or its curtains for both of us.”

    The unicorn snorted, steam rising from her nostrils in the
    cold night air.

    Sebastian stood in front of her, held her nose in both
    hands and looked into her eyes. He had to look from one eye to the other, since
    equine faces are bigger than human faces. But he did it with as much sincerity
    as he could muster.

    “Please?” he begged, “For me?”

    He reached forward and rested his forehead on the unicorn’s
    nose, trying to penetrate into her head with his thoughts. He tried to really
    feel his way into her mind with his heart, with his very soul. This time
    however, he didn’t even get a tremble. Nothing at all.

    Sebastian’s hands dropped to his sides. He looked down at
    the floor. The he shrugged his shoulders, turned his back on the unicorn and
    trudged out of the stable, shutting the door behind him.

    The unicorn had watched him leave and now stood looking at
    the door. In the dim light of the stable she glowed with sorrowful love for the
    boy she had to forsake.

    • mariannehvest

      What a beautiful scene. It’s very sad at the end when you show that the unicorn is deliberately forsaking him.

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        I hadn’t intended to write that, but you how these characters take over! Thanks!

    • plumjoppa

      This is painted so well. Just before the stable was mentioned, I thought the unicorn was a hallucination, or imaginary figure to help him sort out his problem.

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        Thank you!

    • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

      We’re glad to have everybody back too, Kate :)

      • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

        I love this place…

  • Madison

    How do you begin a story? I’m having trouble righting a very beginning of a story I’m working on. (It’s a story within a story.)

    • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

      If it’s a story within a story, what’s the connection between the two? Can you build a launch?

      Otherwise, just put your pen on your paper and start writing. You’ll probably shave the first quarter to half off later but just get the words down for now.

      • plumjoppa

        Great advice! I find it’s a messy process finding where to begin. I often write quite a bit of slop before I realize what that beginning grab should be.

  • plumjoppa

    I could hear the words as I took the keys out of the ignition.

    “Your son is delightful, destined for greatness, such a pleasure to have in class.”

    Was it possible to will something to be true, I wondered as I avoided an icy patch in the school parking lot.

    The classroom was already full of open house parents, when I stepped up to shake the teacher’s hand for the first time.

    “Ben is delightful, a pleasure . . . ”

    But instead, I heard this.

    “We really need to have a meeting, preferably this week.”

    Did I really think this year would be any different? I wonder how many parents are hearing this conversation as we exchange emails to make arrangements, but I’m afraid to look up to meet any of their eyes. I

    • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

      This is great! I was right there with her the whole time.

      • plumjoppa

        Thanks for the comments. I struggled with tense and POV with this one.

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      Wow. I guess he is one of those really intelligent kids. Sounds like my nephew!

    • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.dyer Zoe Beech

      This is so vivid. I love last paragraph especially, ‘the puzzle of us’. So much going on in there.

    • mariannehvest

      This is really good. I can imagine how it feels to have a child who is “challenging” as they like to say now-a-days. The last paragraph is perfect! startling and leading one to wonder what happens next.

  • Lis

    Tommy looked in the mirror and tired to smile. “A new day, a new me, I can be who I want to be,” Tommy chanted; trying to stop the mounting anxiety.

    The job placement at the supermarket would start Friday. This gave him Three day to keep himself occupied. “Maybe I’ll catch a movie”, he thought.. “hell maybe three”. He watched his phone anxiously.

    The room was nice enough. A little cold. “Take a deep breath”, he told himself. “A new day….

    “Forget the bus,” he spoke out loud. “It’s a beautiful day, I think I’ll walk.”

    “Hi Tom, take a seat,” asserted the large man in the blue pressed shirt. “My name is Dave and I’m going to be handling your case.”

    Tommy shifted in his seat never finding a comfortable position.

    “Let’s go over the list of condition Tom.”

    “You’re not to be within 20 feet of an elementary of secondary school.”
    “You’re not to be within 20 feet of a park.”
    “You’ll be meeting with me every first Tues on the month.”
    “Oh and they want you to attend AA meetings.” “Understood?”

    “Clear as crystal,” Tommy took his paper work and stiffly reached for the metal door handle.

  • Tanya Chamain

    He walked away, frustrated as always. My own stubborness and fear would not allow me to call out to him. This was the best thing for the both of us. We would never see eye to eye, we would never understand eachother. The fact that I, no, that we could not let eachother go, was only a weakness both of us would have to learn to deal with.

    The time had come for the both of us to move on. I sat down on a bench, and looked out onto the lake, our lake. It was quiet, but for the sounds of nature. I closed my eyes and let the afternoon sun warm my face. I would miss this place.

    My eyes snapped open when the sun was blocked. “I thought you were done with all of this,” I said.

    Daniel stood above me, his eyes filled with uncertainty. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” he said, as he put his fingers through his black hair.

    I took a deep breath. “I have to go home. My father is expecting me to,” i started to say.

    “I don’t care what your father wants or expects, Sophie. What about what you want, what I want,” Danile said, cutting me off.

    “It’s complicated,” I whispered. Daniel lifted his arms in the air out of the same frustration he always felt when it came to discussions of my family. I stood and walked to the water. “It’s time for me to leave Berkely, same as you. I have a family to go back to, a business to take over. That is how it was always supposed to be.”

    He turned me to look at him. “I was just someone that came along to pass the time.”

    “I never said that,” I answered, hurt by the accusation in his tone.

    “Fine Sophia. Go home to daddy. Let him determine your future for you. We both know that you don’t want to go back there. That you have dreams of you own. I’ll send you post cards, until you tell me to stop doing that too.”

    I looked away from him, not wanting to remember the anger in his hazel eyes. Not wanting his hurt to blemish his beauty. “Just go, stop making this harder than it has to be, Daniel.”

    Again, he walked away, but this time he left for good and I let him go. I knew that I would never find a love like I had with him. but in my world, love did not trump business. My father had a plan for me, I was to take over his company some day, continue the family honor and power.

    My stomach ached at the thought of it. Daniel was right, that’s not what I wanted for myself. It had never been. My legs seemed to give out beneath me. When I looked for him, he was gone, as I had insisted he be. I was afraid without him, now I was alone.

  • Chérie Lee-Anne McBarnett

    The shower was refreshing, just me and the running water the surrounded my body. I
    was a peace. The water trickled rapidly down my face forcing me to close my
    eyes and listen to the water hit the tiles. The water made me unwind, think
    that everything was going to be tolerable for a while but I knew I needed to
    think about what I was going to do about everything that has happened.

    I look up briefly at the gushing water and wish I was home, that sensation in the pit of your stomach when you miss home. But it was bizarre for me because I didn’t know where ‘home’ was. I closed my eyes again, and started to wash my hair.

    The fragments of blood liquefied in to the steaming hot water, tainting the water red with irritation. I question whose blood that is so nearly coursing down the plug hole but the only answer I could give myself was, an acquitted individual.

    The feeling of home sickens intensifies as does the hotness of the shower. I started to miss my sister, my dad… my eyes were red with mourning and my felt as if I were to shriek with pain and anguish.

    I overheard the door creek open, releasing
    me from my own self-pity. Someone had ambled in but I could not tell who it was
    from behind the blurred shower curtain.

    ‘Hello?’ I called.

    I moved the shower curtain with wrinkly hands and took a peek at who had walked
    in so quietly. Hannah stood leaning her hands on the sink, she smiled to
    herself like she had her own private joke I didn’t know about.

    ‘Hannah, I’m in the shower, what is it?’ I asked

    She sashayed in her bare feet towards the curtain. I stepped back covering my
    nakedness quickly.

    ‘Whoa, I’m kind of naked here.’ I said warning her not to open the curtain.

    ‘I know.’ She said politely.

    I couldhear her pick up something from the floor and wiped it out like a bed sheet.

    ‘I have your towel right here. You coming out?’ she persuaded.

    What was going on here? I decided to do as she says. I edged slowly out of the
    curtain upholding to hide my nudity. I snatched the towel and swiftly wrapped
    it around myself covering my lower body.

    ‘Why did you come in here? Couldn’t you hear the shower running?’ I said facing her almost naked, I felt oddly a flush of pleasure but I dismissed it fleetingly.

    She stepped closer placing her hand on my unclothed chest. I gulped.

    ‘I wanted to see you.’ She said with a tempting smile.

    I laughed nervously, trying not to look her in the eye.

    ‘Could you have just waited until I was out?’ I faltered, my throat became dry.

    She lowered her hand to my abdominals; she could probably feel my heart beating
    hard.

    ‘Uh…’

    I stopped as her lips got closer to my face; her well known crimson lippy
    highlighted her beautiful shapely lips.

    ‘Don’t talk…’ she whispered.

    She moved closer, my body stiffened as she paused exceedingly close to my lips. Her
    hand remained on my lower abdominals, making me flush red like the water in
    down the plug hole. We were almost kissing passionately, but something was
    keeping us from actually touching.

    ‘HEY! ROOM SERVICE IS HERE.’ Dale called from the door.

    His voice made jump and step back from her pleasing body. Her eyes were closed
    temporarily, and then she looked up at me.

    ‘Till next time.’ She whispered lifting her hand to my face.

    She swivelled around and sashayed on her tiptoes towards the door. Her hips swayed
    suggestively. She turned her head and gave me a wink and swerved out of the
    door. I exhaled and leaned my hand on the sink. I panted as if I had run a
    marathon. I tried to fathom what happened in my mind but it was filled with her
    seductive lips and her sensual body. I picked myself up from the sink and took
    a breath. I grabbed my clothes from the floor and dressed myself quickly. I
    opened the door and stepped into the main room.
    By Cherie McBarnett (aspiring writer) , Aged 13